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Image 197 of Fairs and fair makers of Kentucky. Volume I

Part of Kentucky Works Progress Administration Publications

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. — 186 — .» FAIRS AND FAIR MAKERS was to the farmer what the cattle ring had been `to his father and grandfather. It was the laboratory where theories were tested and proved or disproved. Lean- /_\ ing over the rail, he formed in his own mind a picture of the horse or span of horses he wanted. lt was a horse that had plenty of weight to handle the plow or reaper 'of the day, a free _walker, and of good action when trotting. For such horses, especially if well-bred, there always was a demand, chiefly local. The standard-bred fitted closely into this need. The trots increased in popularity, V and the get of standard-bred sires grew in number. As the century drew to its 5 close, the stables of Kentucky, those of the ordinary doctor, lawyer, banker, and , reasonably well-to—do farmer, boasted roadsters that in style, action, and all but the ultimate fraction of speed called for by the track, were equal to any- thing the track itself had to offer. * To the same period belongs the development of the three- and five-gaited American saddle horse. Known prior to 1891 as the Kentucky saddle horse, it had appeared before the War between the States in the tournaments of that time. Ca- nadian stallions, among them Copper Bottom and Tom Hal, Canadian mares, Kentucky and Virginia stock, above all the blood of the Thoroughbred stallion Denmark, all these entered into the making of a breed in which performance was the main fac- tor, though appearance wis by no means forgotten. While the Standard-bred or Trotter was a departure from the Thoroughbred in the direction of general road utility, that of the saddle horse was a departure in the direction of adaptation to use as a mount of attractive bearing and action rather than speed. The long, arched neck of the saddle horse, his high withers, his low hips, and his graceful appearance are all secondary to his intelligence, his tractability, and the smoothness with which he goes through his list of gaits. During and since* the closing years of the nineteenth century the saddle heres has found a limited but profitable market among the residents of suburban areas adjacent to our large _ American cities. v °‘ Typical Fairs of the Time All this is mirrored in the fairs of the nineties. In the opening year of that decade, Nancy Hanks was the drawing card at the great Lexington Fair, where, in front of the old—fashioned high-wheeled sulky, she set a track record or 2:- 14;. Two years later, at Danville where, in 1890, Nancy Hanks had set a record of 2:24% for the half-mile track, that record was easily broken by the three- year—old Connor, owned by C. F. Clay. At Versailles, the old home of Mambrino Chief, the season's yearling trot was a notable one, with six starters, and Allan King a close winner in 2:56g. , The Lexington Fair of 1892 introduces the social note that: "... quite a delegation of beauties~ from Harrodsburg were in the A grandstand.... Among them were Misses Hardin, Sullivan, Williams, Da- . vis, Poynter (Shelbyville), and Thomson .... From, Versailles were . Misses Williams, Macey,— Berryman, Arnold, Fishback, Hailey, McCaw, V · Price, Sellers, Bullock, Nelson, Scott, and several gentlemen." _ _ This social aspect of the fairs was in no way new, but it climaxed more and i more, the activities of the closing decade of the century. Harrodsburg Fair,with the local Daughters College to heighten the social aspect, was known throughout the South for its charming women and gallant men. Other fairs, among them those _ held in Danville, Bowling Green, and Louisville, bid for like favorable mention. The Saddle Horse show fitted in well with this social activity. The Danville fair · of 1895 offered a $300 stake in the saddle horse division. Twenty—two horses were entered, and mention is made of the fact that "The Kentucky Saddle Horse, famous .